From Susan's office
EASTER AND PAGAN SPRING TRADITIONS
EASTER AND PAGAN SPRING TRADITIONS
Spring Rituals, Beliefs and Customs
The pagans celebrated spring each year,
for more than a thousand years before
indeed, long before Christianity made its
They believed that spring was a time of renewal
It represented new life and the resurrection of
the dead of winter. Spring festivals revived
various sexual rituals which honoured the sun's
and warming rays after the cold of winter
with its short daylight hours, snow and stormy
Spring brought the promise of longer and
warmer days which offered life givng forces
and much need warmth.
The Name Easter
The Pagan goddess of spring and renewal is
Scandinavian "Ostra"and the Teutonic "Ostern"or
"Eastre" who were both Goddesses
spring and fertility. These goddesses were
on the vernal or spring equinox.
The Phoenicians called her Astarte.
Assyrians and Babylonians called her Ishtar
which is pronounced just as the Enlish word
And in Europe she was known as Ostrara.
The EGG as Pagan Tradition
The pagans had the egg and the hare
as their symbols of spring renewal and
fertility long ago.
been through the long hard winter and
saw spring as a time of rebirth as the earth
was emerging forth
life. In truth, they even believed that the egg
had special powers and was put under the
foundations of buildings
off evil. Pregnant Roman women carried an egg
as a talisman in the hope that it would tell
the sex of their child yet to be born.
Man's relationship with the egg come from
and were deeply rooted. There is an old Latin
which says, "Omne vivum ex ovo" which
means, "all life comes
egg. After all eggs are laid all over the world.
are myths all over the world that say
that the whole universe was created out of an
and remain an emblem of life and
an allegory for rebirth.
During the pagan Spring festival, the eggs were
with bright colours in attribute to the
sunlight of spring.
The "Bunny" as a Pagan Custom
The hare and the rabbit were the most fertile
known during pagan times so of course they
the idea of fertility and new life. Is it any
why they came to be known as the figuration of
in the spring when all of the plants and
come to bear and flourish. Although both are
considered representitives of fertility, it is
regarded as the real emblem because the ancients
saw the hare as symbol for the moon
which is another goddess symbol.
The ancient Egyptian name for the hare was 'un'
means 'open'. Also, legend indicates that the hare
never closes its eyes at all, and not even to
thus remaining always open. The probable reason
is that hares
with their eyes open and rabbits are born blind.
Fertility was very important for the pagans as
the probagation of the spicies and a sign of
hare and eggs are related
to the spring goddess Eostre of, you guessed
fertility. So she was very much revered.
During the transition period, some people were,
uncomfortable with this new
"christian" way of belief
which in many cases was being convinced upon
or forced on them with the penalty of death if
one did not comply.
In the second century Christians began to see the
to the pagan spring rituals and the
resurrection of Christ.
More and more of the pagan customs became
into the Christian Easter celebrations.
Easter is the
religious holiday commemorating
the resurrection of
Jesus Christ who Christians believe
is the son of God. It
is celebrated at the end of
the Lenten season
which lasts for 46 days,
beginning on Ash
Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday.
The Thursday before
Easter is called Holy Thursday
which commemorates the
Last Supper Jesus had
with his disciples
which was held the evening
before he was
crucified. The next day, called Good Friday
is the anniversary of
the Crucifixion of Jesus.
Holy Saturday is the
"day of the entombed Christ".
It is a day of
suspense between two worlds,
that of darkness, sin
and death, and that of the Resurrection,
thereby bringing the
restoration of the Light to the World.
The Easter Vigil
during this evening,
the time period
between Good Friday and Easter Day
symbolizes the end of
one world and
the complete newness
of the era of salvation
inaugurated by the
Resurrection of Christ.
Easter Sunday is the
day that Jesus Christ was resurrected
which is why this day
is so important
to the Christian
Church. It is considered
as one of the two most
of the Christian
Christian Churches did not observe Easter,
it was eventually
incorporated with much controversy
into the Christian
calendar. However the followers
of Jewish origin
continued to celebrate Passover
as did Jesus Christ
with his disciples
during the Last Supper
with the addition of a new custom
of drinking red wine
and eating bread.
The Jewish Passover or
Pesach which is derived from Pasch,
is another name used
by Europeans for Easter
such as the Dutch word
"Pasen" which means Easter.
The Easter Vigil
includes a blessing of water
which is a sign of
purification such as in baptism.
Water that has been
is a sacramental.
Sacramentals are "sacred signs
which bear a resemblace
to the sacraments
[by which the faithful
are] given access
to the stream of
divine grace which flows from
the paschal mystery of
the passion, death, and resurrection
of Christ, the
fountain from which all sacraments
and sacramentals draw
[Constitution on the
Sacred Liturgy, No. 60.
Second Vatican Council
Eggs for Christians
In the pagan religion, the egg typified
the rebirth of nature. With the advent of
came to take on the allegory of
the rebirth of man as exemplified
by the rebirth of Jesus Christ. Likewise,
the Christians also compared the egg
to the tomb from which Christ rose.
Christ said, "I
am the Light of the World…"
The Paschal candle
the Light of the World
is made from pure beeswax.
This represents the
who was formed in the
womb of His Mother.
The wick signifies His
the flame, His Divine
Nature, both soul and body.
Five grains of incense
inserted into the candle
in the form of a cross
recall the aromatic spices
with which His Sacred
Body was prepared for the tomb,
and of the five wounds
in His hands, feet, and side.
The bunny symbol first hopped on the scene
in the 1500s as it was mentioned for the first
in German writings. In the early 1800s edible
made in Germany and were made of sugar and pastry.
bunnies were made from chocolate and in some places
put into baskets with chocolate EGGS.
The hare probably became a symbol of Easter
because the official date for Easter is
by the moon. The moon is considered by many
symbol for woman. May I reiterate here
the importance of the hare by the pagans
as a part of the spring ritual which symbolized
The Date of Easter
In 325 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine
determined that Easter should be
on the first full moon of spring which begins
with the spring equinox on March 21st. In this
mobile feastday with the possibility of occurring
at the earliest March 22nd or at the latest
churches of the west followed this date.
the churches of the east which felt closer
birth of this new religion and held on strongly
to the old
traditions, choose to celebrate Easter
during Passover. Passover after all was
observed by Jesus
was still Jewish and never told anyone
that he was interested in any other religion.
He also never talked about starting a new
He did introduce
a new way of thinking
and being within his own religion.
There were many believers of Jewish background
who had received the knowledge of Christ
with all sincerity and they continued to follow
His example and partook in the Passover
on Nisan 14 each year.
No matter which
spiritual customs and traditions
you choose to follow,
may it be
special, sacred and
HAPPY EASTER! ~ HAPPY SPRING!
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Updated July 22, 2011
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